Mystery Quilt-A-Long: The Plot Thickens


Good Morning, Quilters!

Welcome back to our weekly installment of:


A Quilt THRILLER in several parts….

There are a few new clues to add to YOUR quilts…as The PLOT THICKENS….


Using an erasable marker, chalk, or soap…place an “X” in the upper left hand corner block…

(For more about erasable quilt markers read HERE.)

Handwriting.FMQ.LKennedy004In the very center block:  Row 3, Column 3–Place the message “C 50”.  Again, in an erasable marker…we don’t want to leave any evidence…

Mystery Quilt A Long, Free Motion QuiltingIn the lower right hand block ,(Bottom right corner) (again with an erasable pen) draw three lines…

Handwriting, Free motion Quilting

Mystery Quilt-a-Long

Draw the first line approximately one inch below the zig zags and the other two one inch apart…The spacing isn’t critical…


Your mission this week is to practice YOUR Signature in Free Motion Quilting.

When you are happy with the lettering, sign and date your quilt in the bottom left corner on the lines you have drawn.

I have included sample handwriting for your ANALYSIS….

Handwriting, Free motion Quilting


Cursive handwriting is one of the most familiar continuous line designs… and beginner quilters are often instructed to use it to learn free motion quilting.

However, cursive is NOT ENTIRELY continuous line…

We lift our pens to dot “i” “j” and to cross “x” and “t”…so as you perform your handwriting analysis, take special note of how theses letters can be formed.




Handwriting, free motion quilting

For “i” and “j”, try adding a circle on the top…






To create a “t”–swoop up, stitch a few stitches down and stitch horizontally to create the cross before swoop back to the bottom line.





U and V…



Like the “T”, Cross the X in the middle, before continuing on to the next letter…





  1. Draw lines to keep your spacing. (In the sample below, the lines are one inch apart.)
  2. Use an erasable pen to write your name before stitching over it.
  3. Practice by writing one of your favorite poems or songs.
  4. Add a wavy line between words.
  5. Practice YOUR signature…Your family wants to see YOUR handwriting in your quilts, not the forgery of some imposter…

Free Motion quilting, handwriting



What word did I mis-spell?

Tip #6-Don’t make spelling mistakes–there is not “auto-correct!”

Free Motion quilting, handwritingUSING HANDWRITING IN QUILT

  • Handwriting is a great way to quilt any quilt. Cover the quilt with a favorite quote, song or expression.  There are beautiful whole cloth quilts that are just written free motion quilting.
  • Add personal messages to the recipient of your quilt.  (See College Quilts)  I added messages to my daughters’ college quilts like “Study Hard”  and “You are the bees knees.”
  • Sign YOUR quilts…that way if you never get around to the label, at least your name will be on the quilt somewhere!

Free Motion Quilting, Handwriting


You don’t need to learn all the letters…just YOUR SIGNATURE!


We will continue our Quilt Essentials Series.  January is “Know your sewing machine” month.

We will tackle…T-E-N-S-I-O-N   (Which I believe is a diabolical plot worthy a mini-series…)

Happy Sleuthing and Stitching,

John Lori-Carre

PS…All tutorials, information and images are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin, tweet or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks.




43 thoughts on “Mystery Quilt-A-Long: The Plot Thickens

  1. Perhaps one of the best phrases to practice FMQ handwriting skills is “Thank You” so the border of any veteran’s quilt can have that quietly sewn into it.

  2. On a quilt for my niece, I included words of affirmation. I suggested a few words, and she modified the list and added others. As I recall, I quilted the words in different directions and in a thread color that matched the negative space. She chose to orient her quilt so that the words lie over her heart.

  3. Gosh, that looks so nice. I am still struggling with the zigzag lines. I just need to keep practicing. Thank you so much for getting us to try something new.

  4. I also am having much trouble with the zig zag lines… They sure don’t look anything like yours, Lori…. I can’t seem to keep them even and the same size… I am not good at drawing them either. Practice, practice…

  5. Glad I am not the only one struggling with the zigzag. I did post mine on Flickr – it’s ugly, no 2 zig or zags the same. Next time I’ll use double guidelines, or triple.
    Atrocious stood out as mis-spelled. Hard to say on made up words like supercalifr…
    I did impress myself when I signed my name, city, date on a vase quilt recently. It wasn’t as hard as I thought, it did take focus – less focus than those zigzags. Lauging and crying…

    • Carolyn, I felt the exact same way about my zig-zags! I think mine look like the design on Charlie Brown’s shirt on many levels! I found that repeating the mantra “4 stitches out,90 degree angle, 4 stitches hit the line, bounce off” helped me keep focused. When my mind wandered, so did my work. . . It will take time to have this come naturally and not have to think about it. In the meantime, I am not going to worry about it being perfect! This is about having fun and improving our skills.

      Now to figure out how to use Flickr. I plan to post my work so I will appreciate my progress over time

  6. I have a feeling I’m going to be the student who drives the teacher crazy with too many silly questions.

    1) As you’ve got this oriented, are the 18″ edges the top and bottom, and 22″ left and right? (Does it matter?)
    2) Should the signature fill the bottom right block, or will we add more later?
    3) When lettering the lines (from last week), if the numbers are on the bottom, 1-6 from left to right, are your letters A-F top to bottom, or bottom to top, or does it not matter?

    I apologize, my Type-A personality is shining through here, isn’t it?

    I did finish my zig-zags less than an hour ago. I’m sure they’re a little wider than intended, but they’re done!

    • Hi Lori, So glad you asked! #1–the 18 inch side is on the TOP–it does matter.
      #2–The signature may fill the bottom right block–nothing else is going in this block so it can be filled or small either way it will look great.
      #3The lettering doesn’t matter at all–just a way for me to help explain the stitching order. And if it gets messed up–it will probably still be okay!

  7. The zigzag was a stumbling block to get started. I googled “zigzag lines” and got Lori’s website?????but then it led me to Janome and realized that the circular free motion attachment could guide me by swinging it one way, then the other way and that created a zigzag. (I zigged down at an angle until I saw my white line then zagged down and I moved the width of the circular opening of the attachment the other way. Good luck.

  8. There is a question bouncing around Facebook (again) about whether cursive writing should be taught again in our schools. This is one perfect example that the correct answer to that question is “YES!” Beautiful work, Lori; but now that silly tune will be in my head the rest of the month ;}

  9. I FMQ all my quilt labels in cursive. I heavily starch a small piece of cloth, mark lines, then stitch the lettering. Then I rinse out the starch & applique the label to a corner of the backing before quilting the corner. That way the label is quilted in and will never disappear.

    I works better for me if I draw a top & bottom line for each line of words with space between lines for the descenders (the below the line parts of g,j, p,q,y.) Without that extra space the rows of lettering overlapped.

  10. My name was much easier than the zig zag but I accomplished that by doing two lines and zigzagging between them and then echoing with the first line on my left. I could see where I was going backwards better from that angle. Now to figure out Flickr. I broke down and created an account.

  11. Fun! I love writing in the quilting…so…I bet I wasn’t the only one that “sang” read they above words….LOL! I am horrible about using a different word if I can’t spell something…my tries are so bad even auto correct has nothin’!! LOL!

  12. Pingback: Mystery free motion quilt along : week three | Slaney HandCraft

  13. Am dillegently practicing my zig zags and writing the alphabet and my name.

    Question: Will you be posting all of the steps to the quilt along in one location as we go along so we can refer to it later or refer others to it once they see our soon to be awesomely completed work of art and want to do one themselves?

  14. This is so much fun! I sort of got the zig zags, but my thread choice wasn’t great. I used a variegated green on cream. Oh well it’s all just practise, I could always do another one. I also used a lighter weight thread in the bobbin and the top tension is showing through on the under side. I think for my next sample I will use the same thread top and bottom. I have yet to work out how to use the flickr thing yet, but thanks Lori, I’m loving this.

  15. How do get to the Mystery-quilt-a-long from your home page. I’m having a hard time going back to read each weeks clues. I would also like to post a picture on the Flicker page and can’t find the information you posted about that. Thanks for your help.

  16. Thank you for the great examples of the lower case letters. PLEASE do the same for Capital Letters and how to transition from 1 word to the next.

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